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Love Island USA: What did viewers and critics think?

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Zac and Elizabeth from Love Island USAImage copyright
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Zac and Elizabeth shared the $100,000 (£82,000) prize

The first US series of Love Island concluded on Wednesday – with Zac and Elizabeth crowned the winning couple.

The series has been running for the last four weeks and has seen Islanders coupling up (and of course re-coupling) in a new villa in Fiji.

The show began in the UK, where it has grown into a huge hit.

CBS, the network broadcasting the US series, has a lot riding on the show after winning a bidding war for the rights last year.

So how has it gone down? And will it be coming back?

How has it done in the ratings?

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CBS

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Love Island has already been re-commissioned for a second series in the US

The US version of Love Island has been averaging 2.6 million viewers per episode.

That may not sound very impressive – after all, the most recent UK series often attracted more than twice that, despite having only one fifth of the US population.

But Love Island has much more competition in the US, where there are other hit dating shows such as ABC’s The Bachelor, which began in 2002 and prompted several spin-offs including The Bachelorette.

Also – it has taken five series for Love Island to become the smash hit it is in the UK. The first series brought in around 500,000 viewers to ITV2, but the recent series peaked at more than six million.

CBS will be hoping for a similar upward trend for the second series, which has already been commissioned.

Who has been watching?

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CBS

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The villa is in Fiji but features a lot of the same elements as the Majorca one – like the fire pit

Like in the UK, while it may not necessarily be the highest-rating show on TV, Love Island has attracted a hard-to-reach audience.

“There’s no doubt [CBS] could’ve gotten as many eyeballs, or even more, by filling Love Island’s 8pm timeslot with reruns. It probably would’ve been cheaper, too,” wrote Josef Adalian in Vulture.

“But even if there were fewer viewers, the folks who did watch Love Island are arguably more valuable to CBS… They are younger, more engaged, and more of them are women.”

This reflects the UK demographic – where much of the audience is female and aged 16-34.

Last week, CBS Entertainment chief Kelly Kahl said Love Island had delivered “a really solid, consistent core audience comprised of people who don’t typically watch CBS”, adding that it was the network’s most-streamed show of the season – implying it was particularly popular with young audiences.

Notably, the show’s audience also remained fairly steady throughout the series – with those who watched the premiere mostly sticking with it for the next four weeks.

How is it different from the UK version?

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PA Media

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Amber and Greg were crowned the winners of the most recent British series

The format is largely the same – it’s mainly the contestants, location and series length that were different.

Comedian Arielle Vandenberg hosted the series, which debuted on 9 July. Matthew Hoffman took on the role of the show’s narrator – delivering similarly humorous commentary to the UK’s Iain Stirling.

While the UK version is filmed in Mallorca, the US version has been shot in Fiji, where the average temperature in July is around 26C.

  • Love Island winners crowned in live final
  • Gaslighting to girl code: How Love Island reflects society

The four weeks makes it a shorter series than in the UK – but ITV2’s recently-announced winter version of Love Island will also be considerably shorter.

Like in the UK, the CBS show was broadcast every weeknight in one-hour episodes.

What did the critics think of the US version?

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CBS

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The Islanders are seen going on dates similar to those set up in the UK version

The reviews have been mixed, with many critics finding the show entertaining, but suggesting there’s room for improvement.

“The original batch of Islanders is extremely bland,” wrote Ben Travers on IndieWire, adding that the tasks hadn’t been particularly entertaining.

“Producer manipulation is nonexistent,” he wrote. “One game required Islanders to guess who was being targeted in fans’ insulting tweets, but that barely spurred any insecurities, let alone relationship problems.”

Vice’s Lauren O’Neill wrote: “It’s basically a carbon copy of the UK version, which is for the best. However, it’s let down by the fact the American contestants feel a bit more contrived than the UK ones, and the whole thing is: a) even less natural, and b) nowhere near as funny.”

But Vulture’s Kathryn VanArendonk said: “There is something about it, something about the insularity and banality of it all, that makes the show hard to quit.

“Are there more interesting things to watch? Sure. But is it nice to watch an unexpectedly gentle reality show about hot, superficial singles just trying their best to get along while wearing bikinis…? Strangely enough, for right now, it is.”

Viewers have been largely positive about the series on social media, but some have had a few suggestions of their own about how the series could be tweaked.

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Cher Lloyd: ‘I’m not on the conveyor belt any more’

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“I’ve got nothing to hide any more,” says the 26-year-old

Cher Lloyd was a breath of fresh air when she stepped onto the X Factor stage nine years ago.

Striding around in ripped jeans, with a curl in her lip and eyebrows drawn in the shape of Sydney Harbour Bridge, her performance of Soulja Boy’s Turn My Swag On was nothing like the syrupy, safe singers the contest had become known for.

She went into the live shows as the bookies’ favourite, doubling down on her signature style by performing hits by Eminem and Run DMC amidst the endless parade of power ballads.

But it was a tough year – fellow contestants included Rebecca Ferguson and One Direction (and, er, Wagner). Lloyd eventually came fourth, as the public crowned painter-decorator Matt Cardle the overall winner.

Her profile hadn’t been helped by some unnecessarily vicious press, which branded the teenager a “chav” and a “gypsy”, and accused her of being a “hard-faced diva” who had “lashed out at a crew member and waved a spoon in her face”.

The criticism stung, says the singer. But, looking back, she understands that a show like the X Factor needed its heroes and villains to sustain a narrative.

“There’s a fine line between reality TV and creating artists,” says the star. “I realise that you need all your separate characters to play different roles. But you also have to remember that those people are all there for the same reason, the love of creating music.

“When you go on a show like that, it gives you such a fantastic platform, but it’s what you choose to do with that platform after that really counts.”

‘Too many cooks’

In Lloyd’s case, the story is complicated.

Simon Cowell, who called her “his favourite brat”, signed the singer to his SyCo record label and put her to work on a debut album. But you have to wonder what he was thinking when he chose Swagger Jagger – a bizarre mix of electro-house and the US folk ballad Oh My Darling, Clementine – as her debut single.

It entered the charts at number one, but one critic called it “the worst song in the history of pop”. Catastrophically, the song framed Lloyd as a novelty act, rather than the talented, charismatic singer the public had grown to know on TV.

“I think there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen at that time,” the singer says. “It’s difficult when you’ve got a lot of people with a lot of opinions on what you should sound like, even what you should look like, especially when you’re trying to find your identity yourself.

“I don’t think that you can pre-plan and guess what people want you to sound like. And I think there was a lot of that going on.”

Subsequent releases were better, but the damage had already been done. Her second single, With Ur Love, peaked at number four; The third, Want U Back, only got to 25.

In the US, however, it was a different matter. There, Lloyd was launched without the reality show baggage, and Swagger Jagger was consigned to the dustbin of history.

When Want U Back made the Top 20, Lloyd moved to the States and concentrated on her career there, focusing on her song-writing and taking more creative control over the recording process.

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Getty Images

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“My goal is to perform a lot more than I am at the moment,” says the singer

Now 26, and mother to an 18-month old girl, she’s back with a single called (appropriately enough) MIA. An expressive, playful R&B banger, it finally captures the singer’s unique blend of pop smarts and urban attitude.

“I feel like I’ve finally entered this new phase of my career where it’s totally authentic,” she says.

“When you enter the music industry at such a young age as I did, you haven’t found your feet as a young adult, let alone as an artist. So I think I had grow up and discover who I was and how I want to be heard.”

It seems to be working. Last year, Lloyd tested the waters with a “warm-up track” called None Of My Business – picking up 22 million streams on Spotify; and 32 million views on YouTube without any promotion.

MIA, meanwhile, launches the campaign for her upcoming third studio album, which has been four years in the making. The infectious song finds the singer abandoning her friends at a terrible house party and finding a better way to spend her night (hint: it’s with a boy).

So what’s her go-to excuse if she wants to escape a toxic Christmas do, or a crushingly boring dinner party?

“Well, I’ve got really, really good excuse now, because I’ve got a little girl,” laughs the singer.

“But I’ve always been quite an honest person – sometimes to a fault – so I probably wouldn’t have an issue saying, ‘This is rubbish. I’ve got better things to do’.”

It’s an philosophy she’s applying to her career these days, too.

“I’ve got nothing to hide any more. My music is 100% me,” she says.

“It’s been me going into sessions and me writing the songs. I’m not from a big machine, and I’m not stuck on the conveyor belt that I used to be on. I’ve jumped off, and that’s really scary. But at the same time, super empowering.”

Cher Lloyd’s single, MIA, is out now. An album will follow in 2020.

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Strictly Come Dancing 2019 crowns its winners

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Former Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher, who was only drafted into Strictly Come Dancing as a last-minute replacement, has been voted this year’s winner.

Kelvin and professional partner Oti Mabuse lifted this year’s glitterball trophy on BBC One on Saturday.

Although the pair came second on the judges’ scoring, they topped the public vote to win the show.

Kelvin and Oti triumphed over Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden; and Emma Barton and Anton Du Beke.

The couples performed three dances in Saturday’s final – a judges’ pick dance, their own favourite routine from the series and a new showdance.

The winner was chosen by audience voting alone.

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Guy Levy/BBC

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The final saw all the contestants of the series reunite for one last dance

Kelvin said he was “absolutely speechless” after his win, adding: “I did not expect that, it’s been such a privilege to be here.”

In a post on Twitter, he said he was “humbled, elated, honoured”, adding: “Team #Floti did it!”

Kelvin was only called up after Made In Chelsea star Jamie Laing injured his foot while recording the launch show – and the fellow TV star tweeted his congratulations:

Kelvin and Oti began their routines with a sensual rumba to Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers for which they scored 39 points, followed by a perfect-score showdance to Shout by The Isley Brothers.

Judge Bruno Tonioli said their showdance was “almost like watching 13 weeks of all the best of Strictly Come Dancing condensed into one dance” and Oti’s sister and fellow judge Motsi Mabuse, who joined the panel this year, said: “I have no words…”

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Guy Levy/BBC

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‘You just put the show in showdance,’ said presenter Tess Daly

For their final dance, they revisited their samba to La Vida Es Un Carnaval by Celia Cruz, which they performed in week one.

Judge Shirley Ballas said to Kelvin: “Which part of that body doesn’t move? Fantastic, congratulations, I have no words, you’ve left me speechless.” He scored 39 for the second time of the night.

The Strictly win will give a huge boost to Kelvin, three years after he left his role as Andy Sugden in the long-running ITV soap, which he had played for two decades.

It is also the first time Oti has lifted the trophy. Speaking through tears, she said: “I’ve been on this show for five years and I have never ever met any celeb who gives his heart, his soul…

“If something is not working we stay in training and rehearse, not because he wanted to win but because he genuinely, genuinely loves dancing, and for me that is the best gift and the best ending to my year, so thank you.”

CBBC presenter Karim and his partner Amy performed the quickstep to Mr Pinstripe Suit – and were the only pair to get a perfect score for their first dance.

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Guy Levy/BBC

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Karim and Amy topped the judges’ leaderboard

Their showdance to A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman landed them 39 points and they scored a second perfect 40 for their jive to You Can’t Stop The Beat from Hairspray.

Some fans complained they were unable to vote online, with many saying they were being told they had reached their “maximum number of votes allowed” despite not having yet cast a vote.

The BBC reminded people having difficulties that they could vote by phone.

Emma and Anton opened with the Charleston to Thoroughly Modern Millie, which they first performed on musicals’ week.

Tonioli told Emma, who is best-known for playing Honey Mitchell in BBC show EastEnders, that she was his “favourite flapper ever”.

But the pair missed out on a perfect score by one point after judge Craig Revel Horwood pulled them up on a “sync issue”.

Their showdance to Let Yourself Go by Irving Berlin won them 38 points and their final dance – the Viennese waltz to the musical song Send In The Clowns – netted them 39.

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Guy Levy/BBC

Saturday night was the first time Anton had reached the final since the show’s first series in 2004.

After their final performance, Emma praised her dance partner: “Anton, the King of ballroom, thank you for allowing me to be your Queen for the last three months.”


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Emmerdale actress Sheila Mercier dies aged 100

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Sheila Mercier was part of the first ever episode of Emmerdale Farm

Emmerdale actress Sheila Mercier has died aged 100, ITV has confirmed.

The Hull-born star played Annie Sugden in the soap from its first episode in 1972 until 1994 and continued to make guest appearances up until 2009.

The British Soap Awards remembered Mercier – who was the sister of actor Brian Rix – as the “very definition of a matriarch”.

Claire King, who plays Kim Tate in Emmerdale, has described Mercier as the soap’s “beating heart”.

A spokeswoman for ITV confirmed Mercier’s death in a statement on Friday night.

She said: “It’s always sad to hear of the death of an actor who played a significant part in Emmerdale’s success.

“Even more so when that actor was in the very first episode and around whose family the show was built.”

Emmerdale actor, Mark Charnock, also paid tribute to Mercier.

Charnock, who plays Marlon Dingle, said: “The great Sheila Mercier has left us. What an iconic character Annie Sugden was.

“Used to watch it with my grandparents as a boy, so to meet her in later years was a thrill.”



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